It’s January in Jersey City, so that means it’s time for art aficionados to dust off their purple top hats, dry clean that vintage party dress from the Salvation Army, and polish those patent leather shoes – because this weekend is the annual Snow Ball.
The annual fundraising gala for Jersey City’s Art House Productions, Snow Ball raises money for the organization’s upcoming season of theater, visual art, comedy, festivals, dance, music performances, poetry readings, and media projects. Tickets for the ball are $80 through Jan. 21, and $90 after that date. The $90 tickets can also be purchased at the door.
The cultural programming at Art House continues to evolve.
“Last year’s Snow Ball was a terrific in terms of what we were able to raise,” said Goodman. “Of course you always hope to top what you did the previous year. We’d love that. But even if we matched where we were in 2012, that would be a real gift.”
An arts staple in Jersey City
Now in its 12th year of existence, Art House Productions sponsors and co-hosts a variety of cultural programs, in addition to acting classes and workshops for teens and adults.
What grew out of a one-time open mic event in response to 9/11 in 2001, and eventually led to a regular open mic series, now includes theatrical performances, dance shows, visual art exhibits, and JC Fridays, held at the beginning of each calendar season. Since 2003, Comcast subscribers in Jersey City have also had access to Art House TV, a weekly show that features live performances by emerging and established poets, comedians, musicians, and performance artists. The nonprofit organization also offers acting workshops and is often a co-sponsor of many cultural events in Jersey City.
In recent years Art House has co-sponsored Beth Achenbach’s Ladies that Rock, a live concert of female musical performers and Your Move, a four-day showcase of emerging choreographers and dance companies produced by Avianna Perez, Morgan Hille Refakis, and Meagan Woods. Art House was also among the venues selected to screen movies for the second annual Golden Door International Film Festival, held in Jersey City last October.
Before the founding of Art House Productions, the only regular artist showcase that residents had to look forward to was the annual Artist Studio Tour. Held each fall at various venues throughout Jersey City, the Studio Tour gives members of the public an opportunity to visit local artists in their studios and/or homes to see their work up close. The Artist Studio Tour is cosponsored by Pro-Arts Jersey City and the Jersey City Division of Cultural Affairs, as well as the Hudson Reporter and other local businesses.
But aside from the Studio Tour, there were few opportunities for the community to connect with the artists living here, prior to the founding of Art House Productions. The thriving cultural hub that has since grown up in Grove Plaza – home of Creative Grove and Groove on Grove – was nonexistent.
“There was a culture of isolation,” said Goodman. “There were visual artists who were in their studios…But in terms of performance, or regular events, there wasn’t anything like that at the time.”
After launching the open mic series in 2002, Art House began hosting special events and doing performances around town, such as Words Against War, which was performed on the steps of City Hall. A one-woman play written by Goodman was the first theatrical piece the organization produced.
Its programming continues to evolve. Last school year introduced Stages, a 12-week theater program for students in grades four through 12. And next month, the organization’s ongoing acting workshops for adults will continue with a one-month intensive on “developing your voice on stage.” These are among the programs that are supported each year by the proceeds from Snow Ball.
Snow Ball gets underway on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. at 1 McWilliams Place, near Erie and Eighth streets, on the sixth floor. For more information, visit www.arthouseproductions.org.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.